Publication details [#43774]

Mather, Patrick-Andre. 2006. Second language acquisition and creolization: Same (i-) processes, different (e-) results. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 21 (2) : 231–274.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


There is increasing evidence that most European-lexifier plantation creoles developed over several generations, as successive waves of African slaves acquired increasingly basilectal varieties of the lexifier language, allowing shift-induced interference to play a central role in creole genesis. If in most cases the creators of creoles were adult learners of a second language, and if many of the creole features are the result of second language acquisition over several generations, the next step is to test the hypothesis and to see whether data from current case studies on second language acquisition can shed light on the gradual creolization process. This paper shows that many of the features found in French-lexifier creoles do occur in L2 French and other interlanguages, as a result of L1 transfer and other acquisition processes; examples discussed include word-order within the noun phrase, pronominal clitics, the absence of copula, reduplication, the reanalysis of articles, grammatical gender, verb movement and TMA markers. The major claim of the model of creole genesis advocated here, which can be called the ‘gradualist / second language acquisition model’, is that creole genesis does not involve any specific mental processes or strategies other than those found in ordinary second language acquisition. While in normal, successful second language acquisition, L1 transfer, relexification and reanalysis are relatively marginal in the end, they are nevertheless present, as illustrated in the examples provided here. It is the social and historical circumstances that accelerated the changes and allowed deviant interlanguage structures to fossilize and to create a new language from the linguistic chaos of plantation societies.